Little Difference Between Sanders and Trump

Down in South Carolina, in the days before the Republican primary, I was shocked by the number of South Carolinians who told me they were trying to decide whether to support Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump.

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This choice is, of course, possible in an open primary state such as South Carolina. But what could possibly be happening, I asked myself, that the same voter could be considering Sanders and Trump?

When I dropped out of the welfare state 33 years ago and became a conservative and a Republican, I felt I was walking out of one world and into another that was totally, irreconcilably different.

I said goodbye to the government plantation and Democrat Party politicians promising redemption with other people’s money. I turned to the Republican Party, which represented, for me, traditional values, personal responsibility and limited government.

These were the values of the healthy, prosperous parts of America. And it was these values that I wanted to bring to poor black communities as antidote to the damage done by the welfare state.

But a funny thing happened over 30 years fighting for more freedom in minority communities. The healthy part of America became more like the unhealthy part, rather than the other way around.

Back in 1995, when I was working with Republicans on welfare reform, 37 percent of Americans, according to Gallup, said government should not favor any particular set of values — including traditional values. By 2015, this was up to 51 percent.

Among Republicans the change has been particularly pronounced. In 2002, 22 percent of Republicans said government should not promote any particular set of values. By 2015, this almost doubled, up to 39 percent.

The support that Donald Trump, the current Republican front-runner, is getting is being explained as anger at the Washington establishment and big government. But is that true? Are these Trump supporters really looking for limited government and ending programs that are bankrupting us?

In a Pew Research survey done last December, 53 percent of Republicans said government doesn’t do enough to help the middle class.

In a Reuters poll done last year, nearly 80 percent of Republicans opposed getting rid of Social Security and Medicare. Sixty-four percent opposed getting rid of Medicaid.

But these programs consume half the federal budget. And according to the Cato Institute, over the next 10 years, Medicaid is projected to expand by 21 percent, Social Security by 30 percent and Medicare by 40 percent. Without major reforms here, dealing with America’s massive fiscal imbalances will be impossible.

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can do About It.

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